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Local Attorney Represents Newtown, USA At 2013 World Maccabiah Games In Israel

Newtown attorney and world class cyclist Monte Frank will never forget the day he received notice that he would be representing the US at the 2013 World Maccabiah Games in Israel. It was December 14, 2012.

Reeling from the shock and horror of what occurred in his home town on that fateful day, Mr Frank said it took him a long time to even go back and acknowlege the envelope carrying his invitation to ride with the US cycling team in what would be the largest international sporting event of the year.

But by late May, Mr Frank was ready to begin training and fundraising for his trip having led a March ride from Sandy Hook to Washington, DC with a team of 26 cyclists in the hope of affecting support for federal firearms and mental health legislation in the wake of the mass shooting.

"While I covered my own travel expense, there was an obligation to also raise group funds to support the younger athletes, Mr Frank told The Newtown Bee during an interview this week.

According to its website, the World Maccabiah Games first opened in Israel in 1932. The Games, the first ever held during the British Mandate of Palestine, welcomed almost 400 athletes from 18 countries, including over 60 athletes from Arab countries such as Syria and Egypt. — to Tel Aviv.

This year's games featured more than 9,000 athletes from around the world. Mr Frank said one of the greatest moments of his cycling career, and of his life, was moving through the tunnel at Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium chanting "USA, USA," before emerging to the cheers of more than 30,000 fans who packed the venue for opening ceremonies.

He describes the moment in a blog post on the Daily Koz site: "As I marched in, listened to Prime Minister Netanyahu live and then President Obama on the video screens, all I could think about were my neighbors in Sandy Hook. It occurred to me that there was not a single person in that stadium from every corner of the world who had not heard of my small town because of 12/14. All I wanted to do was find my daughter who was in the stands and give her a hug."

Once the excitement of the opening ceremonies was over, Mr Frank had a chance to do some sight seeing before getting himself mentally and physically prepared for the first of his competitions, a 25km time trial.

"The time trials are always harder for me than the road race. They are not my specialty, its a race against the clock," Mr Frank explained. "The course was along the pre-1967 border with Syria."
 
Mr Frank said said the rolling terrain forced him to muster all the focus and determination he could.
 
"You really have to bear down and keep those pedals going. I just tried to block out the suffering and to keep up my speed," he recalled. "Approching the finish line, there was this last one kilometer climb, so I gave it all I had left."
 
That push catapulted him to a third place finish in his age class, earning a bronze medal. He now had three days to recover and ready himself for the main event, an 80km road race along a hilly course on the Lebannon border.
 
Mr Frank said the route reminded him of races he completed in Litchfield County back here in Connecticut. This event would also broaden the age range of competitors in his class from 40 to 49-year-olds to 30 to 49-year-olds.
 
During the early stage of the race, Mr Frank recalls his teammate from California who eventually won the gold medal, kept attacking and pulled ahead quickly while he settled in at the front of the chase group.
 
"I ended up in a pack with the Israeli champion and a South African rider who eventually won the bronze," Mr Frank said. "I put in a hard effort to gap them, and then on a climb about 15 or 20 kilometers out, I pulled ahead and never looked back"
 
That effort gave Mr Frank's age division the top two winning individual slots including his own silver, and helped the team capture a silver medal as well for its overall performance. He also saw a women's over-50 teammate earn a gold medal and two colleagues in the over-50 men's group capture the bronze and silver medal.
 
Besides the medals he won, Mr Frank was also most proud to display the emblem of his hometown's Team 26 on his official Maccabiah Games uniform.
 
"As I was riding alone, I thought of Sandy Hook, and you all provided me with the strength to get out of the saddle and pedal over the climbs," he wrote in his blog post. "As I crossed the line, I peeled back the number on the back pocket of my Team USA jersey to reveal my Team 26 patch."
 
Looking back on the experience, Mr Frank said it was something he will never forget.
 
"It was really unique for me because while I had raced before up in Canada, this is the first time I was asked to represent the USA against riders from all over the world," he said. "The honor I felt representing Sandy Hook and the US really motivated me to work hard and stay focused, so I could bring back something the community could be proud of."
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